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"The Tightening" is the ninth episode of the fifth season of Orange Is the New Black. It is the sixty-first episode of the series overall. It premiered on June 9, 2017. It was written by Jordan Harrison and directed by Erin Feeley.
In shots reminiscent of a slasher film, CO Piscatella - having broken into Litchfield with a pair of bolt cutters - lurks in darkened corners of the prison throughout the episode. Still in a lingering power struggle with Red, his goal is to kidnap members of her "family" without being detected. His first quarry is Blanca Flores, who attempts to fight him but is overpowered nonetheless.
Red herself is in bed, having been ordered by Nicky Nichols to sleep off the amphetamines she had unwittingly been bingeing on. Nicky, believing Red's continued paranoia about Piscatella is just the drugs talking, goes to fetch Red a cold compress, leaving her alone in her bunk. On her way back, Nicky is lured into a closet and snatched by Piscatella. When Nicky doesn't return, Red gets up to search for her and finds the dropped remnants of the cold compress on the floor. Realizing something is terribly wrong, she goes to ask Lorna Morello Muccio as to Nicky's whereabouts. Lorna does not know, but Cabrera - who was getting depression medication from Lorna when Red came in - mentions she also hasn't seen Blanca. This fuels Red's conviction that people are going missing even farther, though no one else takes her seriously. Armed with a frying pan, Red goes to search the basement where Blanca was setting up a booby trap to catch Piscatella, only to find drops of her blood on the floor. Encountering Piper Chapman and Alex Vause walking in a hallway, Red tells them her theory that Piscatella is kidnapping people, although she conflates Piscatella's actual victims with some of the women who are simply hiding out in Frieda Berlin's bunker while detailing who all is missing. Her fears are again dismissed. Later, Red is back in bed when Hapakuka returns from having been out in the yard. As Hapakuka had borrowed Red's cookbook, Red asks for it back, only to see a note fall out of its pages. The note, depicting a map and reading "Looking for your people?", is the same one that Frieda left for Erica Jones, Gina Murphy, and the others in "Flaming Hot Cheetos, Literally", and was intended to serve as Red's invitation to the bunker. However, Red assumes it was left for her by Piscatella and believes it refers to her missing "family."
Following Joe Caputo's advice, Gloria Mendoza dials three on Caputo's office speed dial and gets MCC's president on the phone. She explains that her son Benito Mendoza is in the hospital and she needs to see him. MCC's president responds unequivocally that he will only help Gloria if she releases the hostages. Knowing that releasing the hostages will torpedo any chances of the rest of the inmates having their demands met, Gloria realizes that she is being forced to choose between not seeing her son or putting herself at the mercy of 400 angry fellow prisoners. She hangs up the phone. Later, having seemingly made her choice, Gloria asks Pidge and Ouija if she can join them on guard duty, looking for an opening in which she can steal the hostages.
Aleida Diaz and Margarita rush to Litchfield, arriving just in time to see Dayanara Diaz outside in handcuffs. Though Aleida tries to get Daya's attention, Daya ignores her and Aleida is forced away by the police. Forced behind a barricade with other family members, Aleida calls Gloria to ask if Daya is okay. When Gloria answers that she is, Aleida blows up at Gloria for lying to her and berates her for failing to be a good mother figure to Daya.
Carrie Black ("Boo") leads her prison hookup Linda Ferguson (who she still believes is a counterfeiter named Amelia von Barlow) to a broom closet in a desolate hallway for sex. While Linda fumbles for the light switch, Boo is knocked out and kidnapped by Piscatella. Linda does not find the light in time to see Boo's unconscious body being dragged away. Later, Piper and Alex have also sneaked off alone for sex, even though Alex insists she hates doing it in the shower. They are also accosted by Piscatella.
Re-entering negotiations following Daya's arrest, Natalie Figueroa ("Fig") sits back down with Taystee to discuss reinstatement of the GED program. Taystee argues that the "life skills initiative" provided by MCC was not a proper substitute for an education program, but Fig rebuts her point by bringing up the dead guard (Aydin Bayat) dug up in the garden. She goes further by asserting that, due to this violent incident as well as the shooting of CO Humphrey, the inmates have lost all credibility. Needing a more credible source as backup, Taystee and Janae Watson go outside and free Caputo from "the Poo." Coming face to face again with Fig, Caputo is about to set the record straight on the life skills initiative being little more than slave labor when they are interrupted by Linda, who begs Caputo to help her get out of the prison. Not inclined to help Linda after his time in the Poo, Caputo tells Fig that Linda is a recent transfer from psych and they simply allow her to think she runs the prison. A protesting Linda is dragged away by Janae.
While sneaking through the black women's dorm to steal beauty products, Leanne Taylor and Angie Rice come across Suzanne Warren, still tied to her bunk. Instead of setting her free, they powder her face with baby powder and leave. Later, when Lorna comes to dispense Suzanne's medications, she is incensed at the way Suzanne has been treated for being "crazy." Changing her mind, Lorna tells Suzanne she no longer needs her pills and cuts her free, encouraging her to be herself.
Following the route on Frieda's map, Red coincidentally comes across Piscatella's hostages - Nicky, Blanca, Boo, Piper, and Alex - bound in the same closet holding the entrance to the bunker. While Red tries to cut Nicky free, Piscatella appears in the doorway asking her "Ready to play?"
In the 1970s Soviet Union, a young Red - at this point going by her given name, Galina - punches out from a shift at her factory job with her friend Nadezhda. As they gripe about the work, Galina's boyfriend Dmitri Reznikov, a security guard at the factory, attempts to banter with her, but Galina is obviously unimpressed. Outside, Galina complains to Nadezhda that Dmitri makes her promises of travel but he is all talk, and that their relationship bores her. Nadezhda tries to cheer Galina up by showing her a pair of American Levi's blue jeans - seen as contraband by the Soviet government - that she bought from a university student. She tells Galina she will be wearing them to a party that evening and invites her to come along. Just then, Dmitri rushes up and invites Galina to dinner. She chooses the party, openly blowing off Dmitri.
The party is held at a speakeasy which requires a password to get in, and it is apparent why: The attendees are all dressed in American fashion and try to emulate American dance styles, all strictly forbidden by the Soviets. Galina notices a man dressed in tight jeans and sporting a Robert Plant-esque hairstyle staring at her and Nadezhda. Kostya, the man who sold Nadezhda the jeans and invited her to the party, comes over and tells Galina the man staring, Pavel, is the one who hosts the parties - and he wants to talk to her. Pavel admonishes Galina not to stick to the old ways, and entices her with talk of the world changing.
A short while later, Galina and Pavel have begun a passionate relationship, and Galina now helps Pavel fade and distribute the illegal jeans. However, one evening Nadezhda arrives with distressing news that Kostya is nowhere to be found, and worries that he has been taken by the police. High on the notion that they are pioneering change and increased freedom, Galina and Pavel do not heed the danger of arrest. They hand Nadezhda a batch of jeans and instruct her to start selling them at the university, where Kostya used to do the same.
A short time after that, Galina reveals in a tense conversation with Pavel that Nadezhda has not shown up for work and her mother hasn't heard from her in three days. They conclude she must have been arrested, and Pavel worries that Nadezhda will implicate them to save herself. He insists to Galina that they destroy the jeans and lay low. Galina realizes that, for all his ideals of changing the world, Pavel is really just like Dmitri: all talk and no action. She berates Pavel for his cowardice and storms out of the apartment.
After her breakup with Pavel, Galina is approached on her way into work by Dmitri, who has a proposition: He wants to go to America, which he plans to do under the Soviet Union's Jewish emigration laws (though Dmitri is not Jewish, he claims to know of an agency who will falsify a Jewish family tree.) He proposes marriage to Galina so that she can accompany him. Though Galina is initially reluctant, she softens after Dmitri promises her they do not have to stay married once they are settled in America if she doesn't want to. Galina accepts, realizing that Dmitri was braver than she thought.
Memorable Quotes Edit
- "Yo, this bitch lied to me twice!!"
- — Aleida Diaz
- "I'm staring at my daughter in handcuffs right now! I ask you to look out for her and the next thing I know she's shooting somebody and confesses? Her life is over!"
- — Aleida Diaz
- "Come sing with us, crazy bitches"
- — Maritza and Flaca
- "Oh, Hell, no"
- — Cindy "Black Cindy" Hayes
Main Cast Edit
- Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman
- Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols
- Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren
- Danielle Brooks as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson
- Jackie Cruz as Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales
- Lea DeLaria as Carrie "Big Boo" Black
- Michael Harney as Sam Healy (credit only)
- Selenis Leyva as Gloria Mendoza
- Taryn Manning as Tiffany Doggett (credit only)
- Adrienne C. Moore as Cindy "Black Cindy" Hayes
- Jessica Pimentel as Maria Ruiz (credit only)
- Dascha Polanco as Dayanara Diaz
- Elizabeth Rodriguez as Aleida Diaz
- Nick Sandow as Joe Caputo
- Yael Stone as Lorna Morello
- with Kate Mulgrew as Galina "Red" Reznikov
- and Laura Prepon as Alex Vause
Guest Starring Edit
- The episode was leaked on April 28, 2017.
- This episode has several references to classic horror films, such as:
- Friday the 13th, when Blanca is alone cleaning the floor and Piscatella appears unexpectedly behind her and the two begin to fight. .
- Scream, when Black Cindy is walking alone and suspects that she is being chased in the corridors of the prison.
- When a Stranger Calls, when Leanne and Angie call the phone in one of the prison offices and Black Cindy replies, Angie asks if she checked the children and Cindy quickly realizes that it is a trot and says the children are dead and the black character is close to dying.
- The Shining, when Black Cindy walks alone down the aisles and sees Maritza and Flaca together in the dark.
- Psycho, when Piper and Alex are caught in the bathroom by Piscatella while they take a shower. Black Cindy is shaving herself in another bath and does not notice anything, only hears a noise that frightens her.